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Healthy Drinking and Eating Habits for Better Sleep

Promoting Sleep with Food and Drink

Late at night, when your tired, overworked body begs for sleep but your busy mind is wide awake, you may decide to slide your feet into your slippers and head straight into the kitchen to warm yourself a glass of milk. While we do not need to eat certain foods to get essential shut-eye, there are foods that help promote sleep.

If you find yourself feeling frustrated from lack of sleep, becoming aware of your drinking and eating habits or changing your diet may help get you back on track with getting much-needed, restorative rest. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may want to consider switching out your current nighttime drinking and eating habits with new ones:

  1. Do you eat big meals before bedtime? If you generally eat large, high-fat meals before going to bed, they may be interfering with your sleep cycle. Because fatty foods take longer to digest, the process of digestion may keep you up longer than you'd like.
  2. Do you drink caffeine late at night? If you drink coffee or soda, or eat chocolate before bed—within four hours of sleep—the caffeine increases the activity of your nervous system and may affect your sleep.
  3. Do you experience heartburn? If so, avoid heavy or spicy foods late at night. When you lie down to sleep you want to be as comfortable as possible.
  4. Do you drink a lot of fluids before bedtime? If so, that may explain numerous nighttime trips to the bathroom when you should be sleeping.

Drinking and Eating Habits That May Promote Sleep

If you've determined that some of your drinking and eating habits may be affecting your ability to sleep, here are some tips that may help you doze off into dreamland.

  1. If you're hungry right before bedtime eat something small, such as calcium-rich yogurt with granola or a small bowl of oatmeal.
  2. Try some tryptophan—in moderation! Tryptophan, an amino acid, is used to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps provoke sleepiness along with enhancing your mood. Foods that contain tryptophan include potassium-rich bananas, brown rice, protein-rich chicken, figs, Omega-3-rich halibut and salmon, milk, peas, pumpkin seeds, plain yogurt and tuna, just to name a few.
  3. Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile has natural sedative properties, which can soothe nervous tension.
  4. Add complex carbohydrates into your dinner menus. Barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and vitamin A- and C-rich sweet potatoes all contain complex carbohydrates. Eating foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates helps releases insulin, which is needed to carry tryptophan into the brain.

Getting a good night's sleep helps rejuvenate the mind and body, and the right foods can help promote this vital function.

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Key Terms in This Article
Vitamin C - fights colds and flus by boosting the immune... more >
Vitamin A - Helps eye health (including seeing normally in... more >
Potassium - helps control the body's fluid balance, helps... more >
Calcium - The most plentiful mineral in the body and one of... more >
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